How To Tell Dehydrated Skin from Dry Skin

dehydrated skin

What's Dehydrated Skin?

Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that is usually temporary and can be caused by environmental factors, medications, and lifestyle.  The most common skin condition is dehydrated skin or skin that's lacking water content.

Dehydrated vs Dry Skin

Dehydrated skin is not the same as dry skin. It can look and feel like dry skin (flaky patches anyone)?  But unlike dry skin, the skin is still able to produce enough sebum and oil. True dry skin lacks oil.

I have dehydrated skin, but not dry skin – I am a bit oily in my t-zone, but the rest of my skin is soft and feels "normal." Dehydrated skin also has a myriad of contradicting symptoms. When my skin is dehydrated, I'll get more oily, and I might flake on my nose (which is already oily) and chin. When I use a sheet mask, it's always these "oily" spots around my nose and forehead that absorb the product and dry out the mask the quickest.  

How do we tell the difference between dehydrated skin and dry skin? 

These two skin conditions may share many same signs and symptoms, but they are not to be confused with each other.

Here are differences between dry and dehydrated skin:

Dry skin

  • Characterized by fewer oil producing glands, lack of sebum and oil production. 
  • Has Flaky patches 
  • Skin may feel tight, flaky and itchy
  • May have higher rates of eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis 
  • Is genetic 
  • Classified as a skin type

Dehydrated skin

  • Caused by lack of water and not oil
  • Tends to be more oily
  • Signs include redness, congestion, and inflammation
  • Feels tight and looks dull in the mirror
  • A skin condition that comes and goes based on external factors
  • dehydrated skin can also be caused by overexposure to sun, dry air, and lack of water adding products.

Causes Of Dehydrated Skin

Medications: especially topical acne products containing benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, or salicylic acid.

Alcohol: both ingesting it, as well as applying products contain drying alcohol

Damaged skin barrier: A healthy skin barrier helps to keep water in, a damaged one can let the water evaporate faster while letting irritating substances in. Signs of a damaged barrier may include skin that is red, or stinging sensation when applying skincare. 

Dry environment: this includes the climate you live in. Low humidity levels can lead to dehydrated skin as well as indoor heating and air conditioning. Exposure to UV rays can also dehydrate skin.

Lack of water in your skincare - If you use mostly oil based products without water to add moisture back into skin, it could cause skin to get dehyrated.  


Dull or sallow skin

Shiny looking, but not necessarily oily (although it could be)

Fine wrinkles when pulled taught – skin should be bouncy!

Feels dry and tight – this can be after cleansing, or even a little while after you've applied moisturizers!

Oily in some places, dry in some places, and flakiness in any of these places. You know you have dehydrated skin when you're flaking over top of those oily places.

Will dehydrated skin cause acne?

Possibly yes due that a dehydrated skin can manifest through tightness, oiliness and appearing less supple and rough, hence leading to acne breakouts. Our skin may produce a lot of oil without enough water to balance it out – which is why we experience oily and dehydrated skin at the same time.

How To Treat Dehydrated Skin

So, what does a skincare routine to treat dehydrated skin look like? Well, it looks like that insane multilayered skin care routine that can consist of ten plus steps. If you want something a bit more simple, the quick and easy, back to basics routine consists of three very easy steps – cleanse, hydrate, and seal.

Pick a Gentle Cleanser: Use a gentle cleanser, preferably ph balanced (look for something no higher than 5.5). You may want to switch to a cream based one temporarily until your skin is no longer dehydrated. Cleansers with a high ph, sulfates and surfactants will only dehydrate your skin more.

Hydrate: Now, you don't need to use twenty different serums to do this. Try a hydrating toner or mist your face with water before you apply your skincare.  After misting, apply a water based product to add moisture back into skin. Check what the first ingredient in a product is and if it is a water soluble ingredient, it is water based versus oil based. 

Seal: The last step is to seal everything in with an occlusive cream. This can be a lightweight lotion or emulsion, or even a heavier cream, If you're regularly more oily, I'd suggest a lightweight lotion, if you're dryer, go with a cream, or even a facial oil. Gel based creams are great, but if you still feel like your skin is tight after a gel, you may want to switch to a heavier, more emollient moisturizer. Look for products that contain glycerin since it is a humectant that will pull water from the environment deeper into the skin.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Run an air humidifier if in a dry environment
  • Wash skin with lukewarm or cool water instead of hot water

Banish Products For Dehydrated Skin

Banish Fighter Gel – Banish Fighter Gel helps treat your dehydrated skin as it is a water based gel that helps relieve irritation and redness. It contains key  ingredients like arnica, dimethyl sulfone, green tea extract and organic gotu kola.

Vitamin C Crème – The Vitamin C Crème has an aloe base and also contains the humectant glycerin. It helps in reducing the appearance of dark marks, and hydrates skin without leaving a greasy residue. 


Dehydrated skin does not necessarily mean it's dry skin and it is a temporarily skin condition that can be fixed!

Dry skin and dehydrated skin are different from each other and not to be confused or interchanged, though they may share a few of the same symtoms. You can alleviate dehydrated skin by following the tips mentioned above in your skincare routine. 


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